Sleep apnea treatment and snoring solutions

Snoring and Sleep Apnea

There is no doubt that snoring is a nuisance for you and for your partner. It can drive couples to fight and ultimately even lead them to sleeping apart. However, for some people snoring is more than just a nuisance. It is a sign of a dangerous, potentially deadly condition, known as obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition that disrupts your sleep, preventing you from getting rest and therefore leading to serious mental and physical health problems. In fact, sleep apnea has been shown to increase your risk of heart attack and/or death from cardiovascular disease by as much as 200%.

Whether you are looking to reduce the nuisance of snoring or have been diagnosed with the serious condition of sleep apnea, Dr. Carmel Soulières of Centre Dentaire Tesolin can help. Please contact us today to learn more.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

When you have sleep apnea, your breathing stops while you sleep. During these episodes of interrupted breathing, described as apneic events, your blood oxygen level drops. This drop in blood oxygen level causes your brain to wake and resume breathing. Although you most likely are not conscious of these episodes and do not remember them in the morning, they interrupt your sleep. A clinical diagnosis of sleep apnea means you have at least ten of these episodes an hour. If you are trying to get eight hours of sleep, this means you are interrupted at least eighty times overnight. Being awakened over eighty times a night makes it very difficult for you to reach and remain in the deeper stages of sleep that are crucial to your physical and mental rejuvenation.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is divided into two types: central and obstructive. Central sleep apnea occurs due to a neurological condition: your brain stops telling your lungs to breathe. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles that hold the airways open relax, leading to the collapse of the airways.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a very common condition. About 2 million Canadians suffer from this form of sleep apnea. Although most victims of obstructive sleep apnea are men over 50 who are overweight, it can affect anyone. It is often associated with TMJ because the tissues of the airway hang on the jaw for support when the muscles relax. A poorly aligned jaw increases the likelihood that the airway will close during sleep.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Snoring is one of the most common signs of obstructive sleep apnea. Before the airway constricts completely, it narrows, leading to turbulent airflow and vibration of the soft tissues, which creates the sound we hear as snoring. About 30 % of snorers have obstructive sleep apnea, and nearly three-quarters of obstructive sleep apnea sufferers are also snorers. Most often, the snoring of a sleep apnea sufferer will be interrupted and punctuated with gasping or choking. But there are many other common symptoms of sleep apnea, including:

– Daytime sleepiness

– Waking with a headache or a feeling that you got no rest

– Lack of concentrating or sudden memory problems

– Inexplicable weight gain or difficulty losing weight despite dieting and exercise

– Sudden depression, irritability, and mood swings

– Diagnosis of medical conditions associated with sleep apnea, like high blood pressure and diabetes

If you suspect you might have sleep apnea, you can schedule a diagnostic session with a sleep medicine center.

Sleep Apnea Treatment

Depending on the severity, there are many treatments for combating sleep apnea. For mild cases of sleep apnea–and often as an adjunct to other treatment methods for more severe cases–behavioral therapy is recommended. This may include trying to lose weight and avoiding alcohol before bed, as well as an alteration of your bedtime routine.

Doctors commonly recommend CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). CPAP is a pump and mask assembly that works all night forcing air into the throat to keep the airways open. CPAP is currently considered the “gold standard” of care, but it does have its drawbacks. The most serious problem with CPAP is that only about 25% of people who are prescribed it can fully adapt to its use, meaning that three quarters continue to suffer from sleep apnea and its potential consequences even after beginning CPAP treatment.

For many people, oral appliance therapy is a more successful treatment. In this treatment, Dr. Soulières fits you with an appliance, similar to those used to treat TMJ. These appliances work by positioning your jaw and/or tongue to help keep your airway open during sleep. Oral appliance therapy is also an effective treatment for snoring, freeing you and your partner from this disruptive and potentially contentious sound.

To learn more about snoring, sleep apnea, and their treatment, please schedule a consultation with Montreal dentist Dr. Carmel Soulières today.

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